Fine Dining

Jade Palace 金湖 @ Tanglin

I was brought to a fabulous restaurant by a business associate during a banquet thrown in honour of my boss. I have never heard of this place but they have been serving one of the best Cantonese seafood since 1998.

Signboard calligraphy by local artist Tan Swie Hian

Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant 金湖海鲜酒家 serves classic Cantonese style seafood cuisine. The seafood is as fresh as it gets, with the live tanks meticulously maintained by the experienced chefs to keep the seafood in tip-top. But what was amazing was their wine collection. The dinner took place in their wine cellar, a privilege given only to their most important guests.

Wine cellar and private dining

Hong Kong-born Ho Kin Fung is proprietor of Jade Palace and his younger brother, Ho Kin Yan, is Executive Chef. Their ancestry is Shuntak and amongst Cantonese people, Shuntak is arguably the most respected branch of Cantonese cuisine.  Mr Ho came and took care of everything – all we needed to do was to say what type of seafood we would like and he would recommend the best way to consume it.

Freshly shucked French Special Gillardeau N2 oysters

Freshly shucked French Special Gillardeau N2 oysters

The voluptuous Gillardeau is a favourite of many high-end restaurants. It has a uniquely chewy and crunchy texture, with the scent of the sea and a soft nutty taste. But at $15 each for an oyster around 80g, this was a bit expensive but the quality was top-notch.

Deep fried chicken cartilage bone 蒜香鸡软骨

Deep fried chicken cartilage bone 蒜香鸡软骨

While most places would just chuck this in the bin or use it in stocks, they seasoned and battered these chicken cartilage bones and transform themed into moreish morsels sprinkled with minced garlic (with a teenie weenie bit of chopped chilli). Couldn’t stop munching on these crunchy, addictive bites while we waited for the rest of the courses to arrive.

Australian rock lobsters in their tank

They were running an offer for their Australian rock lobster. Glorious red in colour, they are sweet and rich in flavour with a crisp, firm texture. We ordered a total of 2.5kg of lobsters to be used for two courses.

Australian rock lobster sashimi 澳洲龙虾刺身

Australian rock lobster sashimi 澳洲龙虾刺身

This has always been my favourite way to eat Australian rock lobster. Two lobster tails were sacrificed for this magnificent plate of sashimi.

Australian rock lobster sashimi – using the tail

Urban legend has it that lobster has no cholesterol. Here’s the fact. Lobster contains very little fat and actually supplies some calcium for healthy bones. But lobster does contain cholesterol — about 124 mg in a 3-ounce (85 g) serving. Healthy people with normal cholesterol levels and no history of heart disease should limit dietary cholesterol to 300 mg a day, so 200g of lobster for me.

Steamed coral grouper 港式蒸东星斑

Steamed coral grouper 港式蒸东星斑

While these coral grouper 东星斑 are farmed these days, these fish is still a very good eat if they are fresh. Here at Jade Palace, they came straight off their live tanks. And all you need is to simply steamed as they were and poured hot oil over scallions and ginger. The soy sauce was served separately to allow each guest to customise how much they want to put on their fish.

Alaskan king crab

Alaskan king crab 阿拉斯加帝王蟹, surprisingly, is not an endangered species of seafood. The crustacean can be found in abundance but because of the logistics to bring them alive to Singapore, they can be quite costly. Tonight, we had a crab done in three ways as suggested by Mr Ho. The first style was steamed crab legs, which I forgot to take photos, but they were definitely the best way to enjoy the sweet umami of the crab meat.

Ginger and scallion Alaskan king crab 沙煲姜葱阿拉斯加帝王蟹

Ginger and scallion Alaskan king crab 沙煲姜葱阿拉斯加帝王蟹

The flesh from the sternums of the king crab was usually used for the crab cakes in a steakhouse. The second style used the claws and sternums of the crabs sautéed with ginger and scallions.

Alaskan king crab in ginger and scallion stir-fry

These pearly white crab meat has a different texture from the leg (also called the merus) but equally sweet. Coated with flour and deep-fried, the crab was stir-fried a second time with ginger and scallions before serving. The sauce here at jade Palace was delicious.

Steamed kanimiso fo Alaskan king crab 蒸帝王蟹盖

Steamed kani miso of Alaskan king crab 蒸帝王蟹盖

Carapace of the crab was used to steam the kani miso. Kani Miso 蟹味噌, the pasty food with a light brown or grey colour is actually the mid-gut gland of the crab. In other words, it is an organ with both functions of the liver and the pancreas. They are quite strong tasting, so only a small teaspoon full needed to perk up the taste of the crab meat.

Crab meat with egg white 赛螃蟹

Crab meat with egg white 赛螃蟹

The proper Shanghainese classic 赛螃蟹 “Sai Pang Xie” literally translated as “just like crab” should not contain any crab to create a dish that resembled the taste of crab meat. But many Cantonese chefs simply used crab meat with egg white to surpass the Shanghainese classic with something that exploded with umami. This third style of the king crab was so delicious, especially with a dash of vinegar.

Australian rock lobster in salt and. pepper – head portion 椒盐龙虾头

Australian rock lobster in salt and. pepper – head portion 椒盐龙虾头

The lobster returned back to the table, this time the head of the lobster was chopped up and stir-fried with salt and pepper. Perfect course as we drank and chatted.

Wild turtle stew in red sauce 红烧野生山瑞煲

Wild turtle stew in red sauce 红烧野生山瑞煲

I couldn’t tell if this was wild or farmed as soft-shell turtles in the wild are endangered. But this turtle was rather bony. I like the combination of herbs they used to braise the reptile, and the crispy pork belly used to enhance the taste was a nice touch.

Wild turtle stew in red sauce stewed with chunks of roast pork belly

Mr Ho explained that this turtle was specially reserved for us and was imported from Indonesia. Wild soft-shell turtle 山瑞 was supposedly to contain more collagen which resulted in a really sticky stew. But he was quick to add that it was “farmed in the wild”. Go figure.

Garlic lamb chops 蒜香羊排

Garlic lamb chops 蒜香羊排

One of their signature dish, this NZ lamb cutlets were deep fried to a different dimension and coated with a very strong garlic and cumin taste. And it was further accentuated with fresh minced garlic. If you are not a vampire, it is difficult not to enjoy this.

Traditional HK-style claypot rice 港式煲仔饭

Traditional HK-style claypot rice

Traditional HK-style claypot rice 港式煲仔饭 is another of their signature done in the traditional street food style that made it such a classic flavour from Hong Kong of yesteryears. And at Jade Palace, they allow you to pick and choose from a myriad of ingredients to make your own pot of rice.

Two types of house made Chinese sausages – pork liver and standard 润肠、香肠

Three kinds of very fragrant Chinese sausages were used in our claypot rice – the classic pork, a duck liver and a goose liver, which were interestingly served separate from the rice. These sausages were all made under the strict supervision of the Executive Chef, so you cannot get the same elsewhere.

Ochazuke way of eating the claypot rice 煲仔饭 – 泡饭

These meats, as well as the practice of finishing off by scraping the remaining “burnt” rice from the sides of the pot and pouring in a clear soup to mix and enjoy, contributed greatly to this dish being unforgettable.

Durian mochi 榴莲雪媚娘

Durian mochi 榴莲雪媚娘

These bite-sized balls wrapped by a thin glutinous rice flour skin filled with luscious durian pulp were the best I have tasted anywhere. Love how it was chilled, not frozen or halfway through defrosting. A great way to end a meal for durian lovers.

Warm almond milk 杏仁糊

Warm almond milk 杏仁糊

And to wash down the mochi for us was a nice warm bowl of freshly milled almond milk. Although it was described as milk, it was so thick and creamy that one could mistaken this as a very soft pudding.

HK-style steamed brown sugar cake 红糖马来糕

HK-style steamed brown sugar cake 红糖马来糕

And then these steamed cake came as well. We were so full that we had to pack it home. It was a delicious breakfast for me.

Afterthoughts

Jade Palace is one of most underrated restaurant and best kept secret in this day and age where social media rules. They do not engage the influencers and allow the food do the talking. Many of the customers are regulars and gourmands that came by word-of-mouth. Mr Ho was a generous host and the ever-so-suave HK restaurant manager that came from a simpler time. He always has a story of every dish and how it came about. I am now a convert too for Jade Palace.

Jade Palace Seafood Restaurant 金湖海鲜酒家
583 Orchard Rd, #B1-13 Forum The Shopping Mall, Singapore 238884
Tel : +65 6732 6628

Visited in Jun 2022

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